When we talk of love, for the most part we talk of people, or things. I love my mom, I love beating anyone and everyone in 2k (try me, you won’t), and I love Bob’s Donuts so unconditionally that it’s become a character flaw. When I went to study in Boston this summer, I expected to fall in love with lobster rolls, the T (subway line), and funny accents. Of course, I was crazy about all of those, but the things that I truly fell in love with were not things at all.
After long days of studying in stuffy Boston University classrooms, I chose, for the the first time in my life, to just walk. I hate walking at home. To me, it’s probably the most mundane and pointless form of exercise possible. Yet I was enamored of Boston in such a way that I wanted nothing more than to just be out in it. One night, I decided to walk through downtown, and by the time I had meandered my way there it was around 6 p.m. At 6:15, half the city got off work, and people streamed out of the lobbies of skyscrapers like water spitting from a firehose. The previously sparse city sidewalks were now turbulent seas of suits, ties, and blazers, all drenched in the soft sunlight of dusk. I was surrounded by thousands upon thousands of people, but I’ve never felt so beautifully alone, so anonymous, so small. The emotion was so overwhelming, so foreign, but it remains one of the most cherished moments of my life.
Afterwards, I took a short T ride to the Italian North End of the city. The North End is a maze of twisted, narrow streets and red brick restaurants, with vibrant lights strung like trapezes from roof to roof, from sign to sign. These streets were brand new to me, but the feeling of familiarity was uncanny, almost paradoxical. If I had to sum it up, I would do so like this: I was at home in a place I had never been. To fall in love with a place is to discover yourself, and I hope that one day you too can find your home away from home.